The eastern city of Bakhmut had its southwestern section retaken by the Ukrainian army, the head of the Russian private mercenary Wagner group Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Sunday, just two weeks after Moscow claimed full control of the town.
Prigozhin announced on May 25 that he was pulling out his troops from Bakhmut, after what had been the longest and bloodiest battle of the Ukraine war. On Sunday he said that “next steps” by Kyiv should be expected.
“There is information that observation posts of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have already been set up there. And if so, then wait for the next steps,” he added.
This statement comes shortly after Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar announced that the Ukrainian army regained control over the southwestern outskirts of the heavily destroyed town.
Prigozhin long criticized the Russian Defense Ministry for the mishandling of the situation in Bakhmut, stressing that his organization alone lost nearly 20,000 men there. However, 10 days ago he announced the withdrawal of his forces, saying they were handing their positions over to the regular army.
The alleged capture of Bakhmut, which has been under siege since August 2022, became Moscow’s biggest military achievement after their forces were pushed back from the Kyiv region and Kherson.
Earlier on Saturday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the Ukrainian army was ready to launch a counteroffensive to regain Russia-occupied territories.